CBS announced yesterday that "West 57th," the news magazine that incited TV critics, factions within CBS News and comparatively few viewers during a 10 week tryout last summer . . . will return to the primetime schedule the week of April 21 . . .
Sunday, April 20, happens to be the end of the regular season, when one network (this year it will be NBC) announces it has won the yearly ratings race . . .
CBS did not reveal which night or which time slot the hour-long show would be assigned but a good guess is that it will air on either Tuesday or Wednesday nights . . . where CBS Entertainment's series have been getting bashed all year long . . .
During its summer tryout, "West 57th" averaged a 10.9 Nielsen rating and a 19 percent audience share . . .
At the time critics inside and outside CBS either loved its contemporary flash -- signaling perhaps a new era in TV news presentations -- or deplored what some considered "shallowness" and by implication an abandonment of all those Values that sometimes stuffy CBS News feels it alone still stands guard over . . .
One general complaint heard at the time was that the four principals -- Meredith Vieira, Jane Wallace, John Ferrugia and Bob Sirott -- tended to intrude in the stories they were presenting . . .
Yesterday, executive producer Andy Lack conceded that "perhaps the focus was slightly ajar" in the earlier presentations but promised that adjustments had been made . . .
The four anchors all return, this time with a bank of some 30 to 40 stories either completed or nearly done . . .
That bank, said Lack, will enable the magazine to "go after the breaking story each week, turn it around and give it perspective" . . .
Lack said that the show will return with the same format and the same structure, including the introduction, which conveyed the sometimes bewildering excitement of getting a news show on the air . . .
Lack, with tongue well in cheek, promised that on its return, "West 57th" will be "even harder hitting, with real rough-and-tumble, rock-'em, sock-'em journalism" . . .
The series return will give CBS, with "60 Minutes" already on the schedule, two primetime magazine shows. ABC has "20/20" and NBC has none . . .
Just last week, NBC announced that its sole magazine project, "American Almanac," has been shelved at least until June, while it builds a bank of harder-hitting stories . . .
National Nielsen ratings for Monday show that "Choices," the ABC movie about abortion, won the 9-to-11-p.m. contest with an 18.1 rating and a 27 percent audience share . . . just ahead of "Flashdance" on NBC, at 18.0/27 . . .
CBS' regular series during that time period averaged a 17.6/26 . . .
WOR-TV, the New Jersey-based Channel 9 that airs on many cable systems, was sold by RKO General yesterday to MCA, the entertainment conglomerate, for a cool $387 million . . .
Ai yi yi caramba! That South American trip last week by the "Today" show gave the show a big boost in the Washington market, anyway . . .
The NBC morning show hasn't been much locally for some years now (unlike "CBS Morning News," which hasn't been much anywhere else) . . . but according to Nielsen overnights for the week ending Feb. 14, "Today" averaged a 6.1 rating and a 24 percent audience share in Washington, compared with a 6.0/23 for ABC's "Good Morning America" (the usual big favorite) and a 4.6/18 for the CBS show . . .
No, your ears are just fine, Channel 45 fans . . . it's the audio from the Baltimore UHF station that has been acting up lately . . .
You might remember that the station was off the air for a while back as a new antenna was installed. The sound problem has popped up since but a spokesman for the station yesterday promised that "we're working on it" . . .
Starting Monday, March 17 . . . Channel 9 will begin airing the syndicated "Divorce Court" in the 11:30 p.m. time slot, Mondays through Thursdays ("Music Video Connection" airs at 11:30 on Fridays) . . .
That means the start of the regular CBS late-night programming will slide until midnight. It also means the first half hour of CBS' "Nightwatch" will be missing henceforth. It also means that Captain Airwaves will now be long gone to Dreamland by the time those new episodes of "T.J. Hooker" show up . . .
Get out your official Airwaves Calendars, TV Column fans, and immediately circle Sunday, Sept. 21, when NBC broadcasts the 38th annual primetime Emmy Awards from Pasadena, Calif. . . .
"T. J. Hooker," corset and all, will return to primetime on CBS for a two-hour movie, called "Blood Sport," which will begin shooting soon in Hawaii . . .
T. J. and his friends will be on special assignment to protect a U.S. senator and his family from terrorists . . .
The last episode of the season for "Hotel," just completed in Hollywood, will finally address the death in November of series star Anne Baxter, who played Victoria Cabot . . .
In the finale, James Brolin and Connie Selleca will receive news of the death from a massive stroke in New York of the fictional Mrs. Cabot . . .
Miss Baxter suffered a fatal stroke during the Thanksgiving holidays while walking in Manhattan . . .
With only nine weeks to go in the regular season, NBC continues to roll along in first place . . .
For the week ending Feb. 16, NBC had an 18.2 rating (representing an average of 15.6 million TV homes nightly) and a 27 percent share of the nightly TV audience, compared with a 17.3/26 (14.8 million) for CBS and a 15.5/23 (13.3 million) for ABC . . .
What didn't work too well for CBS was the 28th showing of "The Wizard of Oz," which had its lowest rating in 30 years, although its 18.4/29 gave Dorothy and her pals 22nd place in the weekly ratings . . .
What didn't work at all for ABC was the premiere Saturday of "Fortune Dane," which finished 62nd among 66 programs ranked in its premiere Saturday night . . .
In other results, CBS' "Thompson's Last Run" tied for 26th, CBS' "Vital Signs" in 29th, and the conclusion of "Harem" on ABC tied for 31st . . .
Among the newer series, NBC's "Blacke's Magic" tied for 33rd with NBC's Disney Valentine special, ABC's "The Colbys" tied for 40th, and the "Disney Sunday Movie" tied for 44th with NBC's movie, "The Last Days of Frank & Jesse James" . . .
CBS' "Mary," already scheduled for a spring tuneup by the network, tied for 53rd, CBS' "Foley Square" was 57th, and ABC's "The Redd Foxx Show" was 61st . . .
The previously mentioned "Fortune Dane" led the Final And All Too Often Fatal Five last week, followed, in order, by NBC's "Punky Brewster," in 63rd; and three ABC shows -- -"Benson," the movie "Best Friends" and "Ripley's Believe It or Not" . . .